A perfectly targeted PG-13. The content is a little inappropriate, but the movie as a whole isn't really considered inappropriate. Actually, for a thriller, it's kind of touching. Could you make this PG? If it was the '90s, 100%. But it deals with potential molestation and rape. I guess I should mention that it is a homicide investigation for the majority of the movie. I'm sure that if I looked in the background on some of the computer screens, I might find even more inappropriate. There's language, but it's fairly tame. PG-13.
DIRECTORS: Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian
Okay, big thing! Everyone told me that it's worth it for the end. The end was going to change my life. We were never going to figure it out. Simultaneously, around the ten minute mark, my wife and figured it out. We actually kind of shouted it at each other. And we were right. So our lives weren't really changed by the end, but is it still worth watching a murder mystery if you have figured out the end from the beginning? Add to that, is it worth watching a murder mystery that you've already solved when the entire concept is just a little bit gimmicky? If it's anything like Searching (or searching), then I'll say "yes."
I want my wife to like the movies we watch together. Call me crazy, but it makes it all the more fun when she's really involved. I'm afraid to offer her gimmicky movies like Searching because that means I have to make myself all the more vulnerable. But my wife is the kind of lady who asks me to pause the film so she can read letters in their entirety. This movie is just constant excess information that builds the world of the film, so I think she was in heaven. She got so much extra information that she actually looked at her phone for a chunk of it. (Yeah, I'm pretending that's a win because I know that she liked it a lot.) For those unaware of the premise of Searching, the movie is told almost entirely from the perspective of the computers and devices of a father looking for his daughter. There isn't really much traditional footage, shy of news reports playing in a streaming video player (which is slight a cop out, but kind of scans with the premise of the movie). I may be putting this all on my wife to sell the gimmick, but I was worried about the gimmick as well. I pretend to hate found footage movies, but I kind of like them as well. Some make me really nauseous, but this is completely stagnant. The computer isn't being shaken. Rather, your TV / screen turns into the monitor for these computers. I have to put some worries to rest as well. I was really concerned that this movie was going to be one giant advertisement for Microsoft and Norton Antivirus from the beginning of the film on. It has this nostalgic quality right as the movie starts with the Windows 98 logo and music. I loved it, but I also didn't need this in my life. When I saw that the majority of the film was Apple, I gave it way more credit. It promoted everyone and the OS was just there to give it a sense of realism. The perfect version of this film would have made its own OS, but then it might have pulled me out of the film. There's no winning on that front.
But Searching wins because it is engaging. I bought J.J. Abrams's S because I like stories that inundate the reader / viewer with a world of puzzles to unravel. That's Searching. Every moment of the film has a clear focus point. Usually, this is a Facetime call or a search bar being filled in. But the film isn't just the search bar. The film is the entire screen for a majority of the film. Every detail adds to the world of Searching and that's what makes it so fascinating. The more you pay attention to it, the more interesting the movie gets. I threw my phone across the room because I didn't want to miss a moment. I guess this creates a unique situation for film. The movie isn't really all that cinematic. It was less of a film experience for me as it was an escape room in my home that was on rails. The movie feeds me all of these puzzle pieces that keep me enthralled. Like a good mystery, it gives you everything you need to solve the mystery before the big reveal happens. While watching the movie again would give me more insight into the mystery, I don't know if there's any value in watching again. It's an experience. It's going on a ride at Universal studios. That's great and I absolutely love it. But there's a disconnect to anything really meaningful. That's a bit much. There is meaning in it. What the directors do is create characters who have a lot depth, despite being shown exclusively through the lens of a webcam. The father / daughter struggle is impressive. But when it comes to the mystery, it is cool in the moment. I feel just a little removed from it. I don't know if that's just novelty wearing off. Searching, despite the fact that it works phenomenally, is ultimately a novelty. It's a novelty that I want everyone to watch because it is a fun time, but it is not a DVD own.
In terms of the mystery, it is pretty good. The movie keeps teasing this dark world behind the camera. Since we don't get to explore the world shy of the computer, we are left to glean everything from the computer screen itself. But time passes in a very unique way. Because we're only interacting with this computer, we don't really have an understanding of how much time is passing. To compensate for this, we have to glean things from David's behavior. I love John Cho. I've been watching out for him since Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and I am pretty much on board for most things that he does. Cho really sells the desperation. If I had to go back and time and do this blog all over again, I would want to write a blog about how I watched certain movies before kids and certain movies without kids. This movie constantly reminds me that my kids are going to get kidnapped and it will be completely out of my control. Cho needs his daughter back. The odd combination between guilt and fear is the central mood throughout. I wonder if it was the format of the movie or what, but anything that David is feeling is what we are feeling. I know that other characters have a sense of empathy in other movies. But there's a divide. The coolest thing about the format of the film is that we are involved in the investigation. There's something almost stalker-y about the whole movie. (I'm typing this while audio is blasting in my ear. The word I want is elusive right now.) But David is almost just an avatar for fatherhood. We know the issues he's dealing with. (My wife noticed that someone asked him out for a drink from one of the text messages on his phone. Scandalous!) When he gets bad news, we get bad news. I don't know if we're as torn up as he is, but it is really easy to relate to him considering that we see all of the steps in the narrative. He's smarter than I am when it comes to the investigation, but they are logical steps. He runs into computer problems and things that we should be able to fix. The world feels grounded and the investigation, while slightly larger than life, does feel like it exists in our world.
I really liked Searching. It's a fun movie. It's a great mystery, even though it might just be a tad too solvable. There are moments that really add to the investigation. We kept on finding little clues that validated our theories. There are moments that make you question if choices are made on purpose. It's a great experience and I want other people to watch it. But like many found footage films, it is ultimately a novelty. But just because something is a novelty doesn't mean it isn't worth enjoying. It's a good yarn told well. That's sometimes all that I can ask for.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.